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Hcg Levels Ectopic Pregnancy

Hcg Levels Ectopic Pregnancy

What If A Doctor Suspects an Ectopic Pregnancy?

If your doctor suspects that you may have an ectopic pregnancy, he or she may perform an ultrasound (also known as a sonogram), an imaging test that uses high-frequency sound waves, to get more information. If no gestational sac appears inside the uterus by around week five of gestation, that is a red flag that may signal an ectopic pregnancy. The physician may also do a pelvic exam to feel for a mass in the fallopian tube and to see if you're experiencing any pain or tenderness.

If you do have an ectopic pregnancy, your doctor can usually terminate the pregnancy using an injectable drug or minimally invasive surgery. Fortunately, most women who experience ectopic pregnancies go on to have ​viable pregnancies afterward.

What Is an Ectopic Pregnancy?

When an egg is fertilized and implants in any location other than the uterus, the pregnancy is considered ectopic. "An ectopic pregnancy accounts for 1-2% of all pregnancies," says Dr. Tami Prince, an OBGYN at the Women's Health and Wellness Center of Georgia in Greensboro, Georgia. "They represent 2.7% of all pregnancy-related deaths according to the CDC and ACOG. 90% of ectopic pregnancies occur in the Fallopian tubes." Other times, a pregnancy may implant in the abdomen, in an ovary, or on the cervix—these cases are much rarer than a tubal pregnancy.

Spotting, cramping, and abdominal pain are often noted by the pregnant mother. If the pregnancy is far enough along, the ectopic pregnancy may be seen via a transvaginal ultrasound.

Treatment with Methotrexate

If a tubal pregnancy is an early stage, it may be treated medically (as opposed to surgically). Methotrexate is successful at treating tubal pregnancies when:

According to the University of Michigan, methotrexate works by preventing cell division and growth. The embryo breaks down and is passed from the Fallopian tube. If methotrexate is the chosen treatment option, hCG levels will be monitored on a regular basis until they have returned to 0.

"Methotrexate can be given as a single-dose regimen, two-dose regimen, and fixed multiple-dose regimen," says Dr. Prince. "The choice of regimen is guided by the initial hCG levels and discussions with the patient about the risks and benefits of the medication. There are similar success rates for both the single-dose and multiple-dose regimens. The latter is associated with an increased risk for adverse effects." According to Dr. Prince, these side effects include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and stomatitis. "These side effects are directly related to the fact that methotrexate stops rapidly dividing cells in the body. This includes the linings of the stomach, bowel, and mouth."

Diagnosing an ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy can be notoriously difficult to diagnose because it often presents with symptoms that can be suggestive of other, more usual, conditions such as gastroenteritis, miscarriage or even appendicitis. Doctors rely on women to give them clear histories about their symptoms and so the more you can tell a doctor about what has changed, what feels different and what is worrying you, the more likely they are to be able to diagnose you. Please do be vigilant and take symptoms that concern you seriously until absolutely proven otherwise. If your instincts are screaming at you that something doesn’t feel right, it’s OK to trust them and ask medical professionals for a reassessment at any time.

The EPT considers that all women of childbearing age presenting with abdominal pain and/ or bleeding should be considered pregnant until proven otherwise.

In diagnosing an ectopic pregnancy, medical professionals are likely to undertake some or all of the following tests. Please click on any that interest you and more information will open up.

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